While on my way to the shop in my nice air conditioned vehicle, I saw something that got my attention. I was stopped at a red light on Hwy 98 and could see an elderly couple at the Tom Thumb curb, sitting in lawn chairs on the side of the road, next to their old beat up pick up truck that was attached to an even older outdated very used RV. (for all of you Breaking Bad fans, yes, it looked like that RV, and you know what my first thought was) All sorts of items were gathered around them. I saw a mini fridge, microwave, blender, toaster, and other various used appliances and tools. There was a sign that read, "Broke Down Sale." I read the sign as I passed them by. I quickly looked in my rear view mirror. My heart began pounding. I felt kinda jittery, with a cold sweat forming. I looked ahead to see a place where I could turn around. Do I turn or keep going? Do I turn or keep going? Do I turn or keep going?
I turned around. As I pulled up, I pulled the cash from my wallet, which was not much, but it was cash. I carefully and quietly approached the couple. Keep in mind, I was by myself. I am a very cautious person. No, that was an understatement. I am an extremely cautious person. O.K. well if we are being honest here, I am an overly cautious, play it by the rules, always have an escape route, organized, prepared, obsessive compulsive kind of girl! It was at a public gas station on a major highway during the day, so I felt pretty safe. As I walked up, the elderly woman sitting with her legs crossed looked up at me. I smiled and handed the man my money. He was sweaty, dirty, and his skin was tan from the sun. I said, "I don't have much, but I wanted to help." He sat there just looking at me. He reached for the money, and asked, "What do you want to buy from our sale?" I told him I didn't need anything, but I just wanted to help if I could. I asked him what was wrong. He shrugged his shoulders and let out a big sigh. With a shake of his head, he began explaining that they had a blow out on the RV, and that it caused some damage. He said he just spent all the money he had on getting the truck fixed. He asked again what I wanted to buy. I said again that I didn't need anything. He asked, "Are you sure?" With what I really believe to be tears in his eyes, he said, "God Bless You." The woman was clean. She spoke slowly and nodded her head while also saying, "God Bless You." I walked back to my car.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking . . . They probably spent it on booze or something else.
Many years ago, I was driving my brother Sam and my baby brother Alex, who is 20 years younger than me, down County Line Road in Jackson, MS. Alex was 5. We saw what appeared to be a homeless man in old raggedy clothing holding a sign asking for food and money. Alex wanted me to turn around and help the man by giving him money. This sparked a conversation about when we should help people. He asked, "How do you know when you are supposed to help them or not?" I said, "You just have to be led to do so." He asked what it meant to "be led?" I explained that it meant to follow you heart. If your heart speaks to you to help them, then do it. He got very quiet, and I thought he was trying to see if his heart still wanted to help the man. He then shouted aloud, "I feel led to go to Bops." For anyone that doesn't know, Bops is a wonderful frozen custard place in Jackson, MS, owned and operated by some of the greatest people I know! Needless to say, I took Alex to get Bops. I will always remember that. In fact every time I face a similar situation, I think of this story.
Well, I guess I will never know if the elderly couple today was legit or not. I will never know exactly what they spent the money on either. What I do know is that I followed my heart. What I also know is that when I was on my way home this afternoon, they were still sitting by the side of the road in their lawn chairs, and most of the items were gone. I hope they are legit. I hope they make it to their next destination. I hope they made lots of money. I prayed for them. Jesus loves them. I love them.
We had a good night. We rode bikes as a family to Seaside. Lucy ran, played and rolled down the hill in the bowl area. Jack walked straight to the mud and sat down. We rode bikes to Publix in Watercolor and did some grocery shopping. After baths and bedtime, I sat down and told Jason about the elderly couple today. I can't stop thinking about them. I see their faces in my mind. I see the woman bouncing her crossed leg on her knee. It doesn't seem like they had a good morning, day, or night. It got me thinking about all the people in our own back yards that aren't having good days. So many times we base our good days on things that are so small and unimportant in the grand scheme of survival. There are people who woke up hungry this morning. There are kids that went to school in dirty old clothes that might not have even gotten baths or supper tonight. I know it is so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives with busy schedules, work, school, kids and even church. I'm not saying we shouldn't enjoy life. We are supposed to enjoy life! I love life. I hope you enjoy life.
We send our money and people on much needed mission trips to far away countries to help people in need. I have been on those trips. They are life changing. They are amazing, and they are so important. I have also been to places here in the U.S. and have seen people here that need our love and help. For instance there are places in Madison County, MS, where some families' living quarters are worse than those I've seen in 3rd world countries. I would never have believed it until I met two very special ladies, Karen and Judy, that work for MadCAAP, which stands for Madisonians Allied Against Poverty. They educated me on the needs of the people in my own county where I was raised and lived such a privileged and blessed life. If you live in Madison County, MS and do not know about this organization, get to know them! They need help. They not only feed and help people in need in Madison County, but they offer education programs and more. I cannot say enough good things about this place. You can connect with them on facebook too by going to the MadCAAP facebook page. No donation is too small. The little donations add up quickly. I learned tonight that they desperately need help stocking their pantry right now.
Here in my new community of Santa Rosa Beach, FL, there is an organization called Food For Thought Outreach. They provide backpacks full of "healthy, easy to prepare food weekly to elementary aged children who might not otherwise have enough food." They held food drives all summer at local businesses and restaurants. I am so excited to start helping in my new community. Visit the Food for Thought facebook page. Can you imagine your child going to school hungry because there wasn't enough money at the end of the paycheck for food? I cannot even imagine. It is very real though.
If there is not an organization in your area, start one or hold a food drive. Get creative with it. Our friends Drew and Sarah Naska of Savannah, GA, carry around bags of clothes in their car to give out to homeless people when they see them. That is cool!
Wherever you live, I know there are similar organizations and programs that need help. Help out. You will feel so good when you do.
I had a good day indeed!
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” - Dr. Seuss